Books: Ecstasy Without Agony

PLUCHE, OR THE LOVE OF ART by Jean Dutourd. 278 pages. Doubleday. $5.95.

God has his prophets and saints, and art has its Pluches—aesthetic Jesuits, Leathernecks of creativity, defenders of aristocratic art-soul against bourgeois art-stomach, men of passion and appetite, of sublime ups and leaden downs. Pluche is a talented, unfashionable, moderately successful painter who is down—or, in Jean Dutourd's words, "chained down in hell amid the circle of the frivolous damned, where everything is mere diversion, where one only hears rank stupidities, where one only says stupidities oneself, where one is bored to death without ever dying."

It is not quite as...

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